Blago Goes Rogue – Appoints Roland Burris for Senate

“How- How- How much did you say? $14,000?  Well, I gotta check my records because I didn’t think it was that much.  I didn’t have that much money to give to the governor.” — Roland Burris when asked if his political contributions to Gov. Blagojevich played any part in his appointment to the U.S. Senate

The political landscape in Illinois dipped further into the Twilight Zone when Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.  The press conference alone was odd enough, with Blago introducing Burris, Burris fumbling his way through a Q&A, and, when all else failed, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago stepped in and took over the press conference.

It was perhaps the most surreal quarter-hour of political theater in the history of the great state of Illinois.

Every news report labels Blagojevich “embattled.”  That’s an understatement.  The governor long ago isolated himself and has had very few political friends in Illinois for several years.  Adding to today’s drama is the exodus of William J. Quinlan as Blagojevich’s general counsel. Blago stands alone, and seems to like it that way.

But he sure expects favors in return – allegedly.

Timing was everything today:

The governor’s announcement came less than an hour after U.S. Senate Democratic leadership issued a statement saying the Senate will not seat anyone Blagojevich chooses to fill Illinois’ vacant Senate post. The statement also is signed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has repeatedly urged Blagojevich not to name a replacement for the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Secretary of State Jesse White even weighed in with a statement that he would not certify Burris.

There’s been a lot of banter in the media about the legal effect of both statements.  Can the U.S. Senate Democratic leadership legally block the appointment?  Does Jesse White’s refusal to certify Burris make a difference?  Burris was insistent tonight on The Rachel Maddow Show that the appointment is legal.  Many in the legal world seemed to support that argument.

But that doesn’t mean the U.S. Senate has to act any time soon.  Harry Reid can effectively refuse to seat Burris, which can potentially delay the appointment for two years or more.

Add to the mix of voices today that of Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, who said he expects that Gov. Blagojevich will resign by February at the latest.  If Burris has still not been seated by then, Quinn as acting governor can simply withdraw the appointment — perhaps.

The waters are muddier than the Fox River Valley after a flood.

Just another cold day in Blagoland.